Contemporary Country House, Northamptonshire

Award winning contemporary five bedroom country house set in the garden of a grade II listed 16th century farmhouse nestled behind a grade II* medieval church at the edge of a village within a conservation area.
The design responds to the plan form precedent set by the historic village made up of elongated rectangular buildings tightly clustered and perpendicular to their neighbouring buildings, therefore reinforcing the distinctive pattern of development and character of the Conservation Area.

This project won both Home of the Year Best Future Facing Home and The Reader’s Choice Award in The Daily Telegraph Homebuilding & Renovating Awards, as well as shortlisted for, ‘Best Contemporary Home’. The judges noted that:

‘Greenaway Architecture took the concept of accessibility to heart when designing this contemporary five-bedroom home on the grounds of a Grade II listed 16th century farmhouse. The finished home responds to the challenges of living with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), providing the occupants with accessible features for every stage or life – even when their mobility naturally diminishes. The layout is open, flowing and functional with expansive glazing throughout the property to visually connect the occupants with the outdoors at all times, whether standing, sitting or lying down. Occupational Therapists and a Professor of Clinical Neurology & Neuroscience were consulted throughout the design process.’

This project has been shortlisted for the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architecture) Awards 2024.

This project was published in The Telegraph as ‘How To Build a House You Can Enjoy Forever – Designing a home that remains accessible for all stages of life makes sense – and doesn’t have to mean compromising on beauty’. Olivia Lidbury writes:

‘Greenaway came up with a home, conceived with accessibility at its core, on the land next to the existing farm cottage.’

‘This beautiful home is engineered for wheelchair access and somewhere family can grow old without being forced to move when mobility naturally diminishes.’

‘Open-plan spaces with level thresholds and floor-to-ceiling windows were designed to help foster a feeling of being immersed in the landscape. “If sitting, standing, or lying down, you can see the fields and horizon beyond,” explains Greenaway.’

“I love big spaces, big windows and lots of light – all the things the cottage didn’t have” says the occupant.’

‘Greenaway consulted with professors of clinical neurology and neuroscience throughout.’ ‘Natural daylight is good for wellbeing, as is being able to get outside easily and not feel like one has boundaries.’

‘A wall of windows connects the house to the garden, the flooring continues seamlessly outside and 1.5m for a wheelchair to turn around throughout are engineered for mobility.’

‘The result is a spacious, practical and stylish home, which is also energy efficient. You would never think that this was a home for a disabled person. It’s so comfortable, all of the time.’

This project was also published in Grand Designs Magazine titled ‘Planned to a tee’.

The scheme significantly enhances biodiversity, ecology and green infrastructure with 71% of the total site area was dedicated to a native wildflower meadow. The remaining area of the site includes gardens, planting and trees around the house which features a sedum roof on its the flat roofed area. The scheme also includes greenhouses, vegetable patches and composting facilities to create opportunities for productive growing spaces. The scheme was designed around retaining exiting trees on site.

The T-shaped form of the house reflects the neighbouring cottage and creates a walled courtyard garden to the north as the entry point to the site. The dwelling is positioned in the plot to create a generous south-facing garden with long vistas across open countryside. The design is inspired by traditional rural barns with features such as long, parallel, timber clad forms, as a simple and clear architectural idea that makes natural associations with the surrounding area, expressed clearly in the plan form and the elevated timber-clad volume.Like the adjacent listed cottage the layered construction method is visually communicated through the materials, including a masonry ground floor topped by timber framed and clad roof storey accommodating bedrooms to the east and open eaves to the west. The first floor is timber clad, which has a synergy with cottage’s thatched first floor, being an organic, natural, and renewable material, similar in colour and which changes over time with weathering. While clearly a modern building, the house also resonates with local architectural traditions.The first floor is a linear volume that floats on a north-south orientation containing bedrooms sitting beneath a green roof. The house is designed with long views though spaces and orientated to visually connect the occupants with the outdoors from within the house. The layout is designed to create an open, flowing, functional, flexible and wheelchair accessible / inclusive dwelling with long views through the house into the garden and beyond. The house was designed to be fully accessible in response to the Client ’s condition of Motor Neurone Disease (MND), making the house a true Lifetime Home accessible to all. The house features a lift as well as a large ground floor bedroom with ensuite wetroom. Occupational Therapists and a Professor of Clinical Neurology + Neuroscience were consulted throughout the design process.English Heritage guidance was at the forefront of the design process to produce a work of high quality modern architecture, avoiding obvious borrowings from historic styles while striking a suitable relationship with the adjacent listed buildings in the immediate vicinity. The house is designed to respect important views as well as create new views and juxtapositions which add to the variety and texture of the setting.